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The Many Faces of Labor

1:00-1:15 Zack Patrick

      Zach Patrick is a second-year History PhD student at WVU whose research focuses on the intersection of labor and intellectual history, particularly with turn-of-the-century radical labor politics. His dissertation hopes to explore the anarchist-socialist split in its United States context from 1880-1920 and the ramifications it had for the development of an American Left and a working-class radicalism.
      My purposed subject for the conference stems from my research on the anarchist-socialist split in the Progressive Era United States. More specifically, my research asks the question why socialism historically became the dominate form of anti-capitalism in the United States by the 1920s over anarchism. This particular presentation will cover the role of epistemology and modernity in the historical development of the US left from 1901-1914. In essence, this presentation will explore how socialists were modernists and therefore more attune to the episteme of the industrial age, while anarchists and anarchist-inspired labor organizations like the IWW contained a kernel of a radical critique of modernity and modernist thinking political theorists have linked to a post-modernist position and one antithetical to their contemporaries.

1:20-1:35 Nicholas Brothers, "African Americans’ Wages and Community Experiences at the A.M. Byers Company"

      My name is Nicholas Brothers. I am a Pennsylvania Native and enrolled in Robert Morris's Ph.D. in Instructional Management and Leadership program. 
      This paper focuses on African Americans' wages and experiences at the A.M. Byers Company. This research also addresses wage levels, specifically targeting African Americans and their job assignments compared to white employees. Furthermore, it explores how these wage differences institutionalized racism in the industry. This research uses the voices of African Americans to analyze how the difference in wages shaped their community placement. Finally, this paper answers the following questions: How did wages differ between African Americans and white workers? How did race play a factor in assigning jobs and wages to employees? What were the ways African Americans, attempted to improve race relations and garner better employment opportunities for themselves in the twentieth century? How did the allocation of wages shape community establishment patterns in Pittsburgh during the first half of the twentieth century? I answer these questions using WPA and Oral histories, the A.M. Byers Personnel Records, Homestead Album Oral Histories, Wage Earning Pittsburgh Survey, and the William Martin Papers housed at the University of Pittsburgh archives. I argue that racialized wage disparities regulated African Americans to a second-class status on the shop-floor and in the community.

1:40-1:55 Luke Masa, "Shut Out: Why Service Failed to Replace Steel"

      A 3rd year PhD student studying 20th century U.S. labor and working-class history
      My paper, “Shut Out: Why Service Failed to Replace Steel”, examines the (re)construction of working-class identity among laid-off steelworkers in the Rust Belt following deindustrialization in the 1980s. For many employed in the steel industry in the mid-twentieth century U.S., their job provided an enormous sense of pride and accomplishment. Working at the mill was something that families had done for generations, and which children, especially boys, had been raised to believe was their destiny. Using the Steel Valley Authority’s Dislocated Workers’ Survey, among other sources, I show that part of the reason why job retraining programs, insofar as they even existed, failed was due to the strong identification among laid-off steelworkers and their families with well-paid, unionized blue-collar work rather than the service sector “replacement” jobs that government and private industry pushed them towards.